By now many people are aware of the opioid epidemic that has affected most of the United States. Understanding substance use treatment resources and whether individuals are accessing those resources helps in understanding the scope of the problem.
According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2017 an estimated 20.7 million people in the United States ages 12 or older – 1 in 13, or 7.6% –needed substance use treatment.1Kentucky’s drug overdose deaths climbed to 1,566 in 2017, an increase of 10.3% over 2016.2 In 2017 Kentucky had the fifth highest death rate due to drug overdoses in the nation (37.2 deaths per 100,000 residents).
The 2018 Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP), sponsored by Interact for Health and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, asked Kentucky adults about the impact of substance use on their family and friends.
KHIP asked, “In the past 12 months, has a family member or friend experienced problems as a result of using drugs?” Three in 10 Kentucky adults (31%) said yes. KHIP then asked these adults whether that person had entered treatment. Overall, more than half of these adults (54%) said the person had entered a treatment program. About 2 in 10 reported that the person entered treatment on their own (18%). Nearly 4 in 10 reported that the person entered treatment only because others intervened (36%). More than 4 in 10 reported that the person never entered treatment (44%).
KHIP asked adults whose friend or family member had never entered treatment to name the most important reason why they hadn’t. Respondents could provide any answer. The most frequent response, which was given by more than 3 in 10 of these adults (35%), was that the friend or family member didn’t want to quit using drugs. Two in 10 of these adults (17%) said that the friend or family member did not believe they had a problem. About 1 in 10 of these adults (9%) said that their friend or family member had died. Other answers included “they went to prison,” “can’t afford it,” “other people are a negative influence” and “no treatment available nearby.”
KHIP also asked Kentucky adults if they knew someone with problems due to specific drug use. Three in 10 Kentucky adults (30%) reported that a family member or friend had experienced problems as a result of abusing prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin or codeine.3 The percentage of Kentucky adults reporting prescription pain reliever abuse has remained relatively stable since KHIP first asked this question in 2011.
Two in 10 Kentucky adults (20%) reported that a family member or friend had experienced problems as a result of heroin use. This percentage has steadily risen since this question was first asked in 2013.
About 2 in 10 Kentucky adults (22%) reported that a family member or friend had experienced problems as a result of methamphetamine use. This percentage has risen since the question was first asked in 2013. Responses to questions about the use of heroin and methamphetamine varied by
1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2017). 2017 NSDUH Annual Report. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2zM5uHc.
2. Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center. (2018). Drug overdose deaths among Kentucky residents, 1999-2017. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2t7ha3O.
3. KHIP asked, “Have any of your family members or friends experienced problems as a result of abusing prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet or codeine?”
Interact for Health regularly conducts research and collects data in order to monitor and evaluate our region’s health status and to measure public opinions about health policy.
Our Health in Action stories highlight the innovative work our grantees are doing to help reduce tobacco use, address the opioid epidemic and ensure that children can access health care through school-based health centers. We also interview people working on those issues at other organizations across the country to learn what works for them.
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